Cane Creek Farm is situated on 20 acres in Snow Camp, NC, in the heart of Alamance County. In addition to being home to the Ossabaw Island Hog, we also raise Gloucestershire Old Spots, Farmer’s Hybrids, and our very own Crossabaw breed, a mix of the Farmer’s Hybrids and Ossabaw Island Hogs. The lively animal population on the farm is comprised of a Noah’s Ark of breeds including a variety of Heirloom Breed Chickens and Saxony Ducks, Katahdin Sheep, Nigerian Dwarf Goats and Miniature Donkeys. Visitors to the farm are constantly amazed at the happy interaction of all our species, and many have compared Cane Creek to a storybook or child’s vision of a farm.
Our farming practices differ from those of our large scale counterparts in almost every way. Cane Creek is a small, family owned farm, and practices sustainable agriculture, rotating crops and animals to keep the soil (incredibly) healthy and to keep the animals on fresh forage. Our animals are never kept in confinement, and have free range to graze, root, and wallow. They always have access to fresh water, and are either hand-fed or have free access to grain-based food, supplemented with everything from garden clippings in the spring and summer to pumpkins and peanuts in the fall. Sheep, cows, and goats are all primarily grass-fed, and our feed never has antibiotics or animal by-products. Cane Creek’s sows (that’s momma pigs, to you non-farmers) give birth as they would in the wild, by making a nest, and for the most part, and raise their piglets without human interference.
The farm operates with a mighty and passionate staff. We're happy to introduce ourselves:
Deeply affected as a vet technician in her early teens, Eliza MacLean has always known her life would find her ever engaged with animals. A senior project in high school lead her to farming, as she worked side by side with a Amish family of 8 and was inspired by their love and commitment to each other and the land. It would take many years for her to return to farming, but she never lost her desire to live that holistic family lifestyle.
MacLean has had a long history with animals, from work rehabilitating seals and sea lions in Sausalito at the Marine Mammal Center to songbird/raptor and small mammal rehabilitation at a wildlife center in North Carolina. After graduating with a degree in Environmental Toxicology from Duke, MacLean studied fish and their relationship to detrimental environmental impact. She also cultivated a hobby farm at home for years before becoming a career farmer, with a herd of registered goats, heirloom chickens, and miniature donkeys.
After the birth of her twins in 2000, MacLean volunteered part-time with the ALBC in Pittsboro, NC. There she met Chuck Talbott, then the Swine Specialist at NC A & T University, who would become a friend and mentor. She decided to go back to work part-time, and Talbott hired her to manage his hog herds at the university. MacLean immediately fell in love with the pigs, and soon starting working full time in partnership with Niman Ranch, Heifer, A & T university and with the Gold Leaf Foundation - focusing on transitioning long time tobacco farmers across the state into family pig farms. After launching the program with Gold Leaf, Niman Ranch hired MacLean to be their representative, evaluating farms and meat quality for their fledgling North Carolina hog production.
In 2003, author and NY Times writer Peter Kaminsky contacted Talbott about finding someone to begin a herd of a rare breed of hog known as the Ossabaw Island Hog - a descendent of the Iberian hogs left by Spanish settlers off the coast of Georgia in the 1500’s. Talbott immediately suggested MacLean - she had the desire to begin her own farm, deeply rooted in her experiences as a youth, and an abundance of knowledge and enthusiasm about veterinary medicine, hog farming, and the conservation of rare breeds. Her herd of Ossabaw Island Hogs, Ossabaw Crosses, and Farmer’s Hybrid hogs has grown - hovering at 250, all free ranging on pasture land and grown without antibiotics or animal byproducts.
Eliza is now seen as a mentor and “go-to” person among other small-scale pasture farmers across the state and regularly serves on panels at Pastured Pork and Poultry conferences. She is the only farmer to continually provide fresh pork products at the venerable Carrboro Farmer’s Market; Eliza is known locally for providing a superior pork product to local restaurants, as well as respected venues in New York other Atlantic coast locations. MacLean is truly unique in the area and the nation, and has become a leader in the local hog farming community.
Marshay Privott - Marshay, a NC A&T grad, handles the day-to-day operation of the farm. Marshay has helped Eliza for years and joined the farm full time in February 2008.
Ross Flynn - Ross works with the animals, assisting in day-to-day operations on the farm. He also works in the farm office, keeping track of general email communications and marketing campaigns. You can also find Ross at the Greensboro Farmers Market. Ross is from Ohio and is a graduate of Miami University. Before coming to Cane Creek Farm, Ross worked with at-risk youth in outdoor adventure programs and traveled abroad. Ross has been a part of the farm since September 2008.
Graham Brugh - Graham is the most recent addition to the farm crew. He is an Environmental Studies/Economics graduate if UNC-Asheville. A North Carolina native, Graham is rounding out his hands-on sustainability experience with his internship in the farm. Through his work with FLS Energy, Piedmont Biofuels and now Cane Creek Farm, Graham is taking the next steps towards solving our energy and climate change challenges on a local level. Graham has worked on the farm since January 2009.